There's a myth out there that goes something like the WRX and the STI are very close and there's even some out there that say the WRX is better. The truth is that the STI is worth every penny of the extra $10,000 you pay, it's actually worth the extra $10,000 just in the transmission never mind the rest of the drive line, six piston Brembo calipers better rotors, suspension, Wheels, upgraded tires Plus all the extra that go into making the advancements work. Everyones up in arms over the old engine in the STI but that is also an upgrade over the FA. Yes I know the its direct-injected runs higher compression/ boost pressure and so on ill give and say on paper its better.
The 2.5 EJ feels like a sports car engine while the FA engine may be more efficient it also runs out of breath pretty quickly. "Only down 30 horsepower and gets mileage?" Maybe, but the STI feels like it's more powerful than 305 horsepower, it spins more freely to higher R.P.M.s and it does it with a single scroll turbocharger which while not spooling up as quickly actually has less heat soak and allows the engine to breathe more freely.
Everybody harps about the 2.5's turbo lag but drive the them both back to back, it doesn't feel so disadvantaged, to be honest it immediately feels faster.
This is one of very few cars thats got hardware and performance seen in cars costing at least twice as much, The Ford Focus RS and VW Golf R don't seem to have this level of hardware quality, their both derivatives of front wheel drive versions. Thats a big statement when you consider the STI is a derivative of the WRX.
Taking this thing on a mountain road you'd have to be in something really hyper to be able to break away, I'm talking a hundred thousand plus even then I can't see anyone being able to escape especially on a tight road.
Where everybody gets in trouble is they go into it thinking its a BMW or Porsche which leads to let down. Those cars cost more because their worth the extra money but they're not performance bargains. Think of it like paying Subaru money for Porsche level performance. The STI is a hardcore machine with hardware and numbers most people never could afford to approach with other brands.